What started as a dream in the Philippines for Salud Elizarde has taken her all over the world, ending up at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau.
Elizarde, who always wanted to be a nurse, began her nursing career when she was 20 years old in the Philippines, before moving to Bahrain and then to Juneau in 1996. Within a few years, she was working at Bartlett, and 15 years later, Elizarde earned the 2017 Excellence in Nursing Award from the hospital.
She accepted the honor Friday afternoon at the hospital’s art gallery, and smiled as she spoke to the crowd of a couple dozen, many of them wearing nurses hats in her honor.
“This award is for all of us, and I would like to share this with you all,” Elizarde said. “I believe everybody working in our field deserves an award. This award serves as inspiration and motivation for us to be more dedicated, committed and to continue the best, excellent, safe quality patient care.”
A plaque with her picture on it, along with the names of the previous two winners, will hang near the hospital’s gift shop so that it’s as visible as possible for visitors. Elizarde also received a check, and the Juneau Medical Society provided both the funds and the plaque.
Elizarde has spent a great deal of her time in the Medical-Surgical Unit (usually shortened to Med-Surg), helping care for stable patients who are recovering from surgery. Elizarde’s care goes beyond what’s required, Dr. Nandi Than said during Friday’s ceremony.
“One of our duties in the care of patients,” Than said, “is to break down those walls and barriers that prevent access to health care. … Salud endeavors to break down those barriers.”
Than, who works at Family Practice Physicians, Inc., explained that Elizarde has helped in bridging the language gap between doctors and patients, especially with Filipino patients. One anonymous patient was quoted during the ceremony as saying that Elizarde showed a great deal of personality and was not a “robo-nurse.”
The presentation of the award Friday completed Bartlett’s National Nurses and Hospital Week, and Elizarde finished her short speech with a reference to the celebration.
“This is something I’ll cherish and remember for the rest of my life,” Elizarde said. “Happy Hospital Week, everyone.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at email@example.com or 523-2271.